Land Acquisition Process for Marconi ‘Still Underway’

The provincial government department responsible for moving the NSCC Maroni Campus to the Sydney waterfront says the process of acquiring land for the project is “still underway,” which is why it would answer only part of the question I asked it this week.

The Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE) said it has acquired (or in some cases, apparently, is still in the process of acquiring) land for the new building from eight owners but could not tell me how much it had paid for the properties, saying only that the department has budgeted $18.1 million for “land acquisition, detailed design and development.”

Waterfront Site NSCC Marconi Campus

Ekistics original sketch for waterfront site.

I was curious about the number of properties required to build on the waterfront because it wasn’t included in the Ekistics study considering four options for the campus, although it was for each of the other three potential locations.

Those other sites included:

Adjacent to Centre 200, a location Ekistics said would have required the acquisition of 30 properties and the demolition of 13 buildings.

On George Street (where the Cape Breton Post building is located), of which Ekistics said:

There are only a couple of operating businesses on this site and the sites are generally large meaning not a large number of land owners to negotiate with. There are only 11 properties and 6 buildings in this area.

Site 2 Sketch

Site 2: Adjacent to Centre 200

On Bentinck Street with a parking lot on Pitt Street. Ekistics said the parking lot would have necessitated the assembly of seven properties, while the NSCC proper would have required an additional 10 properties, including the one on which the new Sydney Fire Station is being built. (Interestingly, although this option for the Marconi was rejected, the CBRM has ended up leasing property from Irving Oil to create a parking lot on Pitt Street.)

So, assuming that dealing with eight owners meant buying eight properties (which it might not have, as some owners might have owned multiple properties; I’ve asked for clarification) the waterfront location required the least land assembly.

Although the work necessary to build on the waterfront land — meaning, the insertion of 800 metal piles into the bedrock — gives whole new meaning to the phrase “land assembly.”

And one of the pros of locating on the harbor was the possibility, should expansion become necessary, of filling in even more of the harbor to “provide an additional 123,282 sq.ft. (2.8 acres) of future expansion potential.”